Public Bank’s security device for e-banking is finally free

When I applied for my business account with Public Bank two and a half years ago, I was told that we can only view our business bank account online. We can’t do any electronic transactions, that involve making payments for example. If we want to be able to make payments, we need to apply for a security device, a.k.a. MSC token I believe, which costs RM220. If I remember correctly, we need to pay a monthly or annual fee for the “privilege”! Rubbish I know, but we didn’t know it was this rubbish until we had opened the account. We didn’t bother to open another bank account, which we had considered, e.g. Maybank, because it can be rather tedious. So we paid KWSP, SOCSO, and whatnot over the counter or by cash. Had to endure queueing in the bank, many times, for long period of time too often.

Today when I tried to pay GST due for this quarter, via the customs’ portal, I thought I could pay via FPX, an online payment gateway, as I was able to proceed after having entered our Public Bank login credentials. But when it came to the final step, of executing the payment, it gave me a “Transaction unsuccessful” error. I was told to contact my merchant bank. Phoned up Public Bank’s Internet banking department, told the guy about the error. At the time I didn’t note down the precise error message. But the guy kept telling me that I should be able to make payment to the customs, even though I explained to him that I haven’t got the security device. But I already paid our GST at RHB Bank over the counter (Public Bank don’t accept GST payment over the counter, shocking!), so couldn’t try out paying online from Public Bank’s e-Banking portal as suggested. Half believing that guy, I hanged up the phone and went on to try paying one of our company’s utility bill. But again transaction unsuccessful. The precise error message is “No rule for transaction”. Armed with this error message, phoned them up again to grill them. This time the lady who answered the phone was able to explain to me that I need the security device. And it is free, I only need to apply for one from my home branch. Great! Why didn’t they make announcement, say via letter or something, that the security device is free? If you look up on the MSC token (see link above) on their website, it is still written there that you need to pay RM220. For such a big bank in Malaysia, they do seem very poorly run. Telephone support are not consistently trained, website not up to date, poor communication with customers on available products, only playing catch up when other banks are well ahead on the e-banking front, and pushing customers to other banks to pay for GST!

To be honest the banking industry in the UK is a lot more competitive than in Malaysia, and many years ahead. Seems that the owner and shareholders of Public Bank are just happy to rake in profit without giving much return to their customers since competition here is not as fierce. Rubbish isn’t it?

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